The Final Five
Yet Another Case of the Mondays

She's a Survivor

Tracking PixelThis post is sponsored by Hologic, Inc., the makers of the Genius 3D MAMMOGRAPHY exam.

This Sunday is National Cancer Survivors Day, and while cancer has managed to take quite a lot from our family over the years, I’m super grateful for the One That Got Away.

Mom and noah

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer back when I was pregnant with Noah. A lump, a mammogram, a biopsy, a mastectomy. A terribly all-too-common story—one in every eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime—albeit with the silver lining of early detection. When breast cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100 percent. Of course, when you’re in the throes of a suspected cancer diagnosis, it’s always a terrifying timeline. How long has it been there before anyone noticed? How fast is it growing while we wait for results? How early is early enough?

This year marks her 11th year as a breast cancer survivor. She was at the hospital the day Noah was born, and has been cancer-free ever since. She’ll be spending this Sunday here at our house, celebrating Ike’s birthday.

As my own 40th birthday looms ever closer, that “one in eight” statistic looms larger. More real. I’m not indestructible, I’ve lost that optimistic fearlessness of your 20s where you naively think nothing bad will happen to you because nothing bad is going to happen to you. Ha! Just you wait.

At the time of my mom’s diagnosis, one of her top concerns was what it meant for my sister and I, her daughters. Did it increase our risk of breast cancer? Was there something we should be doing, checking, testing?

Thankfully her cancer was NOT linked to the BRCA mutation, and her cancer did not mean my sister and I are any more likely to develop it than the average woman without a family history. But considering that’s STILL ONE IN EIGHT WOMEN, that’s not exactly sounding the all-clear signal. Self check regularly. Get a breast exam at the GYN. And get a yearly mammogram starting at 40. Check, check, and welp…I’ll see you in about a year and a half, boob-squishing machine.

The sponsor of this post is actually a new kind of mammogram, the sort of fascinating medical advancement that I find comforting to read about, because YES, FINALLY. PROGRESS IS HAPPENING. The Genius 3D exam detects breast cancer 15 months earlier than conventional mammograms—15 months! It also reduces the dreaded “callback” rate by 40%. (You know, when you get That Call from your doctor saying they need further testing, go on to spend the next couple weeks of your life in agony because you’re sure your boobs are probably definitely trying to kill you, only to get a perfectly clean bill of health because the first mammogram was just playin’, y’all.) As someone who went through TWO lump scares in my 20s due to wonky cysts, I am super on-board with anything that promises better accuracy and fewer needless freakouts.

And so, in honor of National Cancer Survivors Day and breast cancer survivors in particular, I encourage everyone who possesses a rack to CHECK SAID RACK TODAY. If you’re overdue for a mammogram, RECTIFY THAT THERE SITUATION.

Please visit BetterMammogramPoll.com to learn more about the Genius 3D MAMMOGRAPHY exam and to find a facility near you that offers them.

Because we’ve had quite enough of your nonsense, cancer.

Mom and ceiba

Comments

Hillary

My cancer was caught quite early thanks in part to a 3D mammogram. And I was only 42. So please, readers of Amy's blog, go get a mammogram if you're over 40, and opt for the 3D one if you can.

Sue W.

My very first mammogram at 40 found a benign cyst. It was small and I had not felt it. That mammo, in and of itself made me a believer. The little bit of discomfort for less than 15 seconds is so worth it IMHO! I'm so glad your mom will be with you to celebrate Little Boy Isaac's 5th birthday. Even as the rest of us bury our heads in the sand about him growing up!

Peggasus

I had mine two weeks ago, the 3D kind, and, thankfully, all is well! But I, too had the dreaded call back two years ago, which turned out to be nothing, so now I am a fan of the 3D. My mother has had breast cancer twice, about ten years apart, and one mastectomy. Her 91st birthday is Tuesday.

MJ

As one of the one in eight, I second everything you say. "Get to know your breasts" is what my OB/GYN says. Don't worry about doing any kind of fancy self-exam, or what time of the month it is – just do it in the shower when you think of it. Also don't worry about those bunches of grapes that you might feel, especially if they are in both breasts. When you know what your breasts usually feel like, you will recognize that little grain of rice that doesn't belong, should it ever appear. Even then, the lump you may find has about an 80% chance of being benign. And if it's not, you will have found it early and, like Amy's mom and me, have the best chance of beating it.

Christine

I had one of those 3D mammograms and it was great. BUT I was sad to see that it's not covered by my insurance, meaning I had to pay $100 out of pocket for a procedure that my insurance would otherwise have covered in full. Get with the program, insurance companies! Cover the 3D mammogram and save yourselves all that money later, not to mention a lot of heartache on the parts of regular people who just might not have 100 bucks to drop on a "routine" medical procedure they thought was going to be free.
(Clearly, this rant is not at you, Amy. But there you are, talking about this stuff...)

Josephine

Heading for my mammo next week. My mom and I go together (I'm 43, she's 68) to make it a "fun" outing. We go out for a nice lunch after, do some shopping, spend the day together. Both of my grandmas had breast cancer so I want to be vigilant.

RzDrms

Oh goodness...same thing I just said to another blogger today who has a close family member who survived breast cancer (twice!), WHY ARE YOU WAITING NO REALLY WHY?! *Why* would you wait a whole other year and a half (!!!) to get a five-minute mammogram, particularly when your own mother had it so aggressively that she had a mastectomy?? Pretty pretty please consider asking your doctor during your next appointment if you can have one rightnow that same very day? For me? Please? You don't (and I'd say shouldn't!) wait until you're 40.

Cancer does not know how old you are. Cancer doesn't magically wait until you've been on the earth at least 40 years before going all wonky. I want you to live a long long time! <3

Andrea

I too am one of the 1 in 8. I found the pea sized lump at age 40 & spent the next year going through surgeries, chemo and radiation. I agree that you, Amy, need to get a baseline due to your family history. Even I without a history had a baseline at 39.

The bee

Just had my latest 3D as well. Early detection saved me.

Diane

I became a statistic at 32. A mammo didn't find the cancer (I did), but I was only able to do that because I knew the "lay of the land", so to speak. Even if you're afraid of hearing bad news (like I was), get the tests done and get an early start on the treatment you need.

Candace

Thank you. I'll schedule my overdue one tomorrow, first thing. I've already put it on my todo list.

Verbatim

The recommendation now is to not start mammograms until age 50. I think the early detection stuff is actually kind of a myth, and not strongly backed by science. Breast cancer mortality rates haven't gone down. You either have the kind of cancer that's going to kill you, or you don't, whether you find it early, or not, matters little. Meanwhile, mammograms, as a source of radiation, cause some cancers. I'm waiting until I'm 50.

The comments to this entry are closed.